Refurbished and reused: junior collects second-hand instruments for kids in need

Refurbished and reused: junior collects second-hand instruments for kids in need

By Abby Bagby, Staff Reporter

Junior Julian Lu’s project of collecting formerly used instruments for the underprivileged kids of Philadelphia started as an idea for his boy scout community service activity. Little did he know, he would soon be getting calls from Delaware and New Jersey residents looking to donate their old instruments to the cause.

“I thought that it would be a good idea — it would be a good cause to spread this wealth of music that I enjoy myself,” Lu said.

Lu’s plan to refurbish used instruments did not come immediately when thinking about his community service requirement for Eagle Scouts. He previously had another project in mind — he planned to build a standing garden for a church so that elderly members didn’t have to kneel down to tend the plants. However, he changed the project because he felt it was not the right fit for him.

“It’s not that I didn’t care for it,” Lu said. “I wanted to do something that was more personal to me.”

Lu thought about creating a system through which people could donate their used instruments to those who cannot afford them. He searched online for a way to realize his new idea and came across Musicopia, a nonprofit organization whose goal is to give children in Philadelphia the opportunity to learn and appreciate music. Finding this organization with which he resonated was an important step for Lu. However, the journey was not free of bumps-in-the-road, and the COVID-19 pandemic was quite a bump.

“I had pre-initialized this project and had it pending pre-coronavirus, and then coronavirus blew up and I had to redo the entire thing. I had to do logistics that pertained to the regulations of COVID. It would have been so much easier if I had already launched this pre-COVID,” Lu said.

The impact of the pandemic leaves the majority of the work up to Lu, as he is unable to organize a team into groups and therefore has to be the one to haul the instruments into the storage space. Nevertheless, he has continued to work and grow the project.

Lu’s project has been a success so far. He has been getting calls from people all over Greater Philadelphia offering their instruments and has since extended to Delaware and New Jersey. Donations have yet to slow, so Lu plans to continue working with Musicopia. 

In the future, he would like to explore other ways in which he can help the organization, such as advertising and logistics, two key factors that helped him collect the 200 instruments he has gotten so far. He believes that everyone should be able to enjoy music like himself.

“Music is something that I think should be accessible to everyone pretty much,” Lu said. There are many people that feel about music the way I do where it kind of eats, sleeps, and breathes them.”

Knowing that his hard work and dedication will give someone the opportunity to explore the musical world is the best part of his experience.

“The most rewarding part is knowing that these instruments are going to people that really want them,” Lu said. “Especially during a time where you’ve just got to stay inside or go outside with limitations, it’s nice to at least be able to do something, pick it up and find an interest.”


Looking to donate an instrument? You can reach out to Julian Lu at [email protected]!

Abby Bagby can be reached at [email protected]